My interest in the museum project began as an active member of the
Tallahassee community who recognized a need for a museum in our city,
but not as simply another box to display things in, but rather as
an edifice for learning and exploring. As the building plans began
to take shape, it became apparent that a web presence was going to
become an intregal component of the museum. The term virtual edifice
denotes at the simplest interpretation of a building that is experienced
but not physically felt. It is made up of the word virtual borrowed
from the technology of virtual reality, or VR. VR is a class of computer
controlled multisensory communication technologies that allow more
intuitive interactions with data and involve human senses interactively
together. It is a tool or a strategy to experience information and
thereby assist learning.... and be extremely enteraining. Edifice
is the place that one enters to connect with their own culture, beliefs
and myths. In a general sense it is a space defined by architecture
that houses the information, knowledge and beliefs of a culture. It's
role is built on its function as a symbol but it manifests much more.
. Years pass in the making of structures that edify society. Museums
have been such places and virtual museums on the web represent the
beginning of a new edifice.
What we as educators must do is be aware of technology that can assist
learning. The internet promises to be the quantum leap from present
to future edifice. Even so, much of what we see as the future is still
in the future. Most websites put up for the delivery of educational
content are designed as a virtual type of book. Predominately linear
and text driven, many web sites serve as both newsletter and catalogue
for the museum. The potential for the web is its ability to deliver
multi-sensory learning experiences to the viewer who may explore,
define, discover and construct their own learning. The On Line
Learning Environment used a multiple visual interface to quickly
get the viewers interest. Each page of the site was divided into component
interfaces including sound, single pictures, video and VR environments.The
VR environments functioned as the roadway to other places, to other
sites, or other databases. The concept behind using a VR environment
is the development of "nodes" which refer to a point and click method
of quickly going somewhere else. In this case, once you have entered
the museum, VR environments gets you quickly to the exhibition you
are interested in, gets you to see the exhibition, gets you to hear
about the exhibition, specific exhibit, or interact with the exhibit
and gets you to additional sites and specific educational programing.
The potential of the web is to deliver multi-sensory learning experiences
to the viewer who may explore, define, discover and construct their
own "exhibiton." The On Learning Environment will create a
virtual Cultural Center with virtual exhibitions, interactive access
to virtual exhibits and people within the Capital Cultural Center
and a template for further virtual tours. Piqued by interesting 3-D
environments, a visitor will have opportunities to explore exhibition
areas. The programs of the Museum of Art and Odyssey Science Center
will serve as an "extended exhibition" for visitors via the World
Wide Web. The use of sound and video streaming will serve as both
an instructor and museum guide as you go through the virtual experience.
The hypertext format makes it possible to merge art and science in
ways that bridge the disciplines and demonstrate the multiple connections
between exhibits. Telecommunication technology will allow visitors
to interact in real time with people and exhibits at the Cultural
Center. The virtual exhibits can also be "linked" to applicable hands-on
activities and a searchable archive of hands-on resources which can
used to supplement or replace existing activities. Frequent Internet
broadcasts of lecturers, demonstrations, video conferencing and interactive
exhibitions will serve to extend the exhibition.
The On-Line Learning Environment is a demonstration for how
cultural institutions can integrate resources by using technologies
that expand their activities with minimal costs. Links to other local
points of interest can include other facilities. In Tallahassee for
example, it will include: The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory,
the FSU Super Computer Computations Research Institute, the FAMU Observatory,
the FSU Planetarium, the FSU Nuclear Physics Lab and the Appleton
Museum.The web site is a model to explore cultural resources and use
them to anchor other activities. Interactive hands-on visual resources
are suddenly available to everyone connected. The site is to be more
than text linked information in the style of classical hyper text
environments. We are trying to develop a true hyper media environment.
In addition the On-Line Learning Environment will create
a virtual archive of exhibitions and pre- and post- visit activities
to expand life beyond the one time exhibition. The virtual cultural
center will improve public access of science and art exhibitions by
offering interactive exhibits, workshops, demonstrations, and special
events to improve the understanding of art and science. The site offers
a view of the museum in the 21st century. No longer will there be
one exhibition, one guide, one catalogue or even one topic at a time.
The future museum will be a multi-layered and diverse environment
reflective of our society. The viewer will experience the exhibition
through a combination of reading, writing, seeing, hearing and feeling
both at the site and virtually.The exhibiton will be a unique blend
of gathering, sorting, and recreating and reflecting to create an
active audience of repeat visitors.
On Line Learning Environment prototype used several technologies.
These technologies, some of which can be down-loaded at no cost from
a Web browser are HTML, VRML, Java-scripting, speech synthesis, and
robotics control via Web pages. Most internet users have web browsers
and are able to take full advantage of these standards for hyper media.
The Cultural Center's On Line Learning Environment addresses
the need to find a way to keep visitors motivated and interested in
the activities of the Center. The virtual exhibits will allow the
patron to become familiar with the exhibitions before they arrive.
The On Line Learning Environment in conjunction with the programs
at the Center will be used as a guide to the exhibitions and a new
exhibition to explore. It will allow the visitors to return to explore
the exhibits in virtual space, share or report on the actual visit.
Presenting the exhibition in different forms reinforces the exhibition.
Experiencing the exhibition using different senses makes new connections
and naturally expands learning through exploration. Please visit the
prototype of the On Line Learning Environment at
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